Just one of those nights for the Carolina Hurricanes?
The temptation is to say that after the Canes’ 7-1 road loss Saturday against the Boston Bruins. Except that it marks two of “those nights” in a nine-game span for Carolina – the Canes were shelled 8-1 in Toronto on Dec. 19.
So sharp Thursday in beating the Pittsburgh Penguins and maintaining playoff position in the Eastern Conference, the Canes came unglued early against the Bruins at TD Garden. Goalie Cam Ward was out of the game before the six-minute mark. Scott Darling relieved but had no help. The defensive zone was a mess. There was little life anywhere in the lineup.
“We didn’t skate,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “We didn’t get to our game.”
The Canes left Boston with Sebastian Aho’s injury heavy on everyone’s minds.
Replays of the injury late in the first period are not pleasant to watch. Aho was jostling with Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller along the boards, their legs tangled, when Aho fell back awkwardly and twisted his right leg.
There was no immediate update on Aho’s condition after the game. The Canes, who returned to Raleigh, have Sunday as an off-day and will practice Monday at PNC Arena before the flight to Tampa, Fla.
There’s no avoiding the obvious: If Aho, the team’s top point-producer, is out for an any extended period of time, the Canes’ playoff hopes take a major hit.
The Canes’ side of the stat sheet was hard on the eyes.
Forwards Jeff Skinner and Derek Ryan each had a minus-5 rating. Minus 5. Forward Elias Lindholm was minus-4 and defenseman Noan Hanifin, a Boston native who has played well at TD Garden, was minus-3.
The Canes allowed a power-play goal and shorthanded goal. They had 16 giveaways and six takeaways. They were 22-for-36 in the circle as Boston’s Patrice Bergeron won 13 of 17 draws and Sean Kuraly 10 of 11.
Peters used a very early hook on Ward, probably a wise move.
After allowing two goals on the Bruins’ first two shots, Ward was pulled for Darling. His personal six-game win streak ended, but Ward escaped the brunt of the Bruins’ damage and should be able to quickly re-set for Tampa Bay.
After the debacle in Toronto, the Canes responded two days later with a 4-1 road win against the Nashville Predators
Among their best wins of the season, it kicked off a four-game winning streak, the impetus of the push into playoff position this past week.
Looking at the week ahead – at Tampa Bay, at Washington, then home against the Capitals – there’s much to be gained. Or lost.